3 S.R. Johannes: Mardi Gras Wed!/Marketing to Indie Bookstores

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mardi Gras Wed!/Marketing to Indie Bookstores

Mardi Gras Updates

The winner of Tuesday's Daily Prize Drawing is ...

Kristi from Sisters in Scribe

You win a free package of Carolyn Howard-Johnson's ebooks: The Frugal Editor and The Frugal Promoter.

Please email me your email address so I can hook you up with Carolyn. Congratulations and thanks so much for following me and participating this week!
For rules and schedule, go here.

Marketing to Indies (Marietta Zacker
, Nancy Gallt Literary Agent and Indie Bookstore Owner)


Don't forget to Follow me and comment on this post for a chance to win today's Daily Prize! Today's prize includes a query OR/one chapter critique from Marietta along with a follow up phone call to discuss!!! Good luck!

Hi Marietta. Thanks for celebrating Mardi Gras with us this week!

Hi Shelli, thanks so much for giving me this opportunity to share a little bit about myself while adding to the conversation about marketing and children’s books.

FYI: Marietta is pronounced (Ma-Ree-Eh-Tuh). If you are really good, you can roll the "R". She loves that!!! :)


Before we get into the good stuff, tell me about yourself, your bookstore, and your agency.

I am an agent with the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency and own an independent children’s bookstore, Sparkhouse, nestled inside a toy store. Without a doubt – and I imagine, not surprisingly – my work in one informs my work in the other.

At the agency, Nancy and I work collaboratively in every aspect of our work, from reading manuscripts to negotiating contracts to guiding our clients. Nancy opened the agency 10 years ago and I joined her in 2008. We are proud to represent some of the most amazing writers and illustrators in the industry – both published and yet-to-be published.

At the bookstore, they call me the Book Curator (we firmly believe that every book is a work of art) – I select the books that we carry and work with the community to make sure that they are exposed to books that will make children and young adults lifelong readers. That work, along with my previous experiences in the publishing and book industry, fuels what I do at the agency, working hands-on with authors, illustrators, editors and fellow publishing professionals.


I don't see how you balance it all! Put on your Indie hat for a second and tell me, as a bookstore owner, what are the most effective ways an author can contact/or market to an indie bookstore?

• If you have an Indie bookstore nearby, get to know them well. Ask the children’s book buyer if they would review a copy in the hopes that they can recommend it for the Indie Next List or feature it on their website or newsletter (and if the book buyer is also the bookstore owner and therefore, busy beyond belief, ask if anyone else on staff can do it!). In the Indie world, we talk quite a bit amongst ourselves and collaborate often, so a recommendation from a fellow Indie bookstore goes a long, long way.

• If you are willing to do events, (book signings, school visits, video conferences, etc.), ask them if they can connect you with the local school or community organizations with whom they will certainly have ties.

• If electronic or postal communications (as opposed to face to face) are your strongest tools (or possibly only tools, depending on where you live), be creative with the e-mail or letter you send to indie bookstore owners. Just telling them that your book was recently published doesn’t help – we are just as bombarded as everyone else in the book industry. And if you can, send them a galley or book (or at least an excerpt) – it’s always the writing or the illustrations that get us!

• Regardless of whether you are marketing to a bookstore or not… I would strongly recommend developing an online presence – whether on your own or with some help – and ensure that it accurately reflects who you are. You don’t need to have an account set up on every networking site on the web. Simply ask yourself what would make the most sense for you and then do that in a way that highlights your uniqueness.

• It makes sense to connect with the publicity department at your publishing house and alongside them, find ways that you can creatively market yourself. They are an ideal and logical ally.

• Regardless of who you are presenting yourself to, always do so professionally and after doing a bit of homework (Sound familiar? Hmmm, query letter anyone?).


What are a few tips on how to run an effective book signing? What do you think an author should do to ensure its success?


During the planning stage, ask if they can arrange a school visit that same day (even if when you start, you can afford to do so free of charge or for a nominal fee). A child’s interest in and enthusiasm for your book will more than likely mean a larger turnout at the store. Also ask if the bookstore can partner with the local public library (the bedrock of many communities) or local restaurant (food at en event always helps), as it is invaluable to reach out to different constituents of the community. Think of creative ways to tie the bookstore’s community to your book and make those suggestions. And as I mentioned before, make sure to tap your publisher’s publicity department.

(Clue #3 is the word "Marketing".)

For the actual event, make sure you know what is expected of you and if you are scheduled to talk, make sure you have a good plan for the talk or discussion and that you are well-rehearsed. Make sure that someone from the store will be by your side – they should lead the nuts and bolts of the event while you focus on talking about your book. If you are in a community where you have any kind of roots, make sure you personally invite everyone you know and ask each of them to bring a few people.


I believe we, as authors and lovers of books, should be sure we are supporting our local Indie bookstores. How can we, as authors, help/support bookstore owners more?
  • Become part of the IndieBound community and always, always use the IndieBound logo on your website and marketing pieces.
  • Of course, also become an IndieBound affiliate so people can buy your book through an independent bookstore.
  • And needless to say, patronize independent bookstores – it’s the only way to ensure indie bookstores continue to serve our communities in ways no one else can.

Let's switch our focus. Put on your agent hat and tell me how you and your literary agency support your authors' books once they are on the shelf?

I throw a party for them every day! :) We love to talk to our authors and illustrators about different ways to connect to their readership and to the community at large. We ask our authors and illustrators to continue to be students of the industry alongside us.

Most importantly though, we support them as they continue to create new characters and devise new stories as their growth as writers and illustrators will only strengthen the work already on the shelf. Their job is to write and illustrate and we encourage them to continue to do so.


As an agent, what are you looking for in a writer/manuscript?

Work that moves me – whether through words, illustrations or both. I look for manuscripts and illustrations that speak to the rich, complex, diverse world we live in and hope to work with people that are just as passionate as I am about the vital function children’s books serve in our society.

Thanks for stopping by, Marietta!

My best to you Shelli and everyone in the blogging world! :)

Also, you can follow Marietta on Twitter @AgentZacker. and on Linked In at "Marietta Zacker". She reserves her Facebook page for personal use only, so don't try to Friend her :)

93 comments:

Melodye said...

"Book Curator" and party-thrower-- I love that! I read so much joy into the agent-author relatonships Marietta describes. Her clients are very fortunate.

Solvang Sherrie said...

Great ideas! I love my local indie bookstore. We know everyone in there by name and they know me and my kids. I can't imagine life without an indie nearby!

Heather Kelly said...

What a great interview! Some great marketing ideas there, with the school visits connecting to the book store reading. Thanks for sharing!

Christina Lee said...

I love that she owns a book store too!! She gave some great advice. Thnaks for this interview, Shellie. Oh and the prize includes a phone call?? WOWEE!! Keeping my fingers crossed!

JenSwan03 said...

Marietta,

Great stuff! I think it's neat that you are an agent and an indie bookseller. What a great combination! Thanks for all the tips on how to approach a bookstore. I will file it away for when I need it.

Jennifer

Alli said...

I love the idea of an indie bookstore owner and literary agent all rolled into one. Talk about finger on the pulse! I can see both sides benefiting greatly.

susiej said...

Agent & bookstore owner: that's a great combo. Who better than a bookseller to know what readers want? Way to go, Marietta.

Falen said...

wow i learned a lot about indie bookstores i didn't know before. i'll have to check out indiebound

Patti said...

Great interview, especially learned a lot about indie book stores. Great advice on book signings.

Kristi said...

I'm beyond excited!!! This is the first time I've won anything. Ever. Really. Thanks so much Shelli - you rock! I'm emailing you right now. :)

Nisa said...

It's so interesting to hear about the bookstore side. Thank you so much, Shelli and Marietta.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great interview! I love it that you included connecting with local school and community organizations through the bookstore. Brandon Mull did that here in Montana before Fablehaven took off, and it was a huge success. Excellent tips and advice - thank you! :-)

maclibrary said...

I have great admiration for all the indie bookstores. They rock. I found the how to do an author signing very helpful. Thanks again, Shelli for hosting this week of great information.

Shari said...

Fabulous interview! I learned a lot. I, too, love independent bookstores. Mine is the best. Hurrah to The Purple Cow! This is another unbelievablly great prize. *fingers crossed* Pick me, pick me, pick me.

Kirk K said...

Thanks for this wonderful interview. Marietta is definitely a go-getter.

Janet Johnson said...

How awesome that she owns her own bookstore ON TOP OF being an agent. Wow.

Favorite quote:

"You don’t need to have an account set up on every networking site on the web. Simply ask yourself what would make the most sense for you and then do that in a way that highlights your uniqueness."

Excellent advice, and what a relief!

Tere Kirkland said...

Marietta and Shelli, thanks so much for sharing this with us. Hopefully, this information will be invaluable to me someday. ;)

Scott said...

Great post.

S

Kayeleen said...

Being from a small town, the only book stores around are Indies. I love the advice for getting involved with them. I'm proud of the bookstores in my town and the way they really support local authors.

laurapauling said...

Thanks Shelli and Marietta with a rolled r - the advice is timeless.

Kristi Faith said...

What a great post for all aspects of writing! Thank you both for valuable information and great advice. :)

lbdiamond said...

Fantastic interview! I don't know much about the Indie scene. Thanks so much for sharing!

:)

John Sankovich said...

I wish there were more indie book stores nearby where I live. I'm stuck with the big'uns. I liked to hear about the way you can market your books to your target audience.

Susan R. Mills said...

Great interview! Marietta is a very busy lady. I admire her.

AchingHope said...

I really need to do some more research into Indie bookstores. Thanks for letting me know some more about them. :D

Victoria Dixon said...

This is awesome. I'm taking notes. Thanks!

Robyn Campbell said...

Congrats to Kristi!!

Super great post. I love Indie bookstores. Wow. Marietta and her literary agency really support their authors. Hmmm, I know someone who is preparing to query. =)

The book signing advice is indispensable.

Man that lady is so busy. YIKES!!! =)

Thank you Shelli and Marietta. Oh, and I did the roll the tongue thing. =)

L.J. Boldyrev said...

Congrats, Kristi!

Great post! Lots of invaluable info here. Thanks Shelli and Marietta!
I'm on my way to indiebound!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I love the idea of an indie bookstore nestled inside a toy store, I imagine it like a hideaway, a special place to visit. I'm very sad to say the indie childrens bookstore in my town shut its doors.
So much wonderful advice here. Thank you both.

Lois said...

Thanks for a great post. Some great ideas for working with idie bookstores.

Anissa said...

I love Indie bookstores! Once again, fantastic interview. You're rocking Mardi Gras week!

Shawntelle Madison said...

Nice to send a marketing post about Indie book stores.

Rebecca Knight said...

Planning a school visit for the day of your bookstore signing is such a great idea, and one that I haven't heard mentioned before :D.

Thank you so much for the interview!

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

We are fortunate to have a community that supports local authors and Indie stores!

Shelli you are on fire this week! Great interviews!

Marietta, I practiced a bit and my r's are rolling (such a pretty name hmmm what story could I put that in)

Stephanie McGee said...

This was a great interview. I'm definitely going to be bookmarking this one. I'll have to research my area to find any indie bookstores. Don't know if they exist with so many chains nearby.

kathrynjankowski said...

A book store within a toy store–how wonderful! Thanks for giving us some indie insight.

WindyA said...

We don't have an indie close by, but I've been in the ones further away and I love the atmosphere so much more! Definitely some things to keep in mind for .. you know ... some day ;)

Karen said...

Wow! I'd say she keeps busy. Great interview--thanks!

Bish Denham said...

Sigh...I wish there was an indie store in my town. Still, this is all good advise. Thanks for sharing, Maietta!

VR Barkowski said...

Excellent interview and a great reminder: independent booksellers and libraries are priceless resources we should nurture at every opportunity.

Larissa said...

Excellent, excellent interview! Thank you Shelli and Marietta! :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great advice! And believe me, I'd be thrilled if I could roll my r's. Then maybe my Finnish relatives could understand me.

Shelli, you've done an amazing job this week. I can't wait to see what's next!

Danyelle said...

This series you've been doing this week has been very helpful. Thank you so much! I didn't know you could have Indie bookstores review your books. Great stuff to know!

Kristi said...

Shelli - I sent you a Facebook message w/ my email as Outlook doesn't appear to work on my laptop. Thanks again and today's interview is fantastic!

Dreamstate said...

Another winner, Shelli! Thank you...

Warren Baldwin said...

Marietta and Shelli -
Good post/interview. I wish your company's work included religious/devotional works (which I write).

lotusgirl said...

I love Indie Bookstores. They cater to me, and, when I'm reading, it's all about me. =)

Ramey Channell said...

Marietta, I love the idea of having a children's bookstore inside the toy store! I think that's marvelous. I still remember the books I enjoyed as a young child; still have one Little Golden Book that was my favorite at about age 5.

Ramey Channell
www.rameychannell.blogspot.com

Beth Mithen said...

My idea of heaven is a bookstore nestled inside a toy store! This was such a great informative interview. Thank you so much!

Kelly said...

Wow! Believe it or not, I've been practicing rolling my r's saying Marietta for a few days! (I just queried her last week.) Fabulous interview and excellent advice regarding indie bookstores.

Jo said...

Hi Marietta and Shelli!
This was a terrific interview - and always great to "visit" with you two!

Yat-Yee said...

Great info for someone steeped into kidlit. We are lucky to have several indie bookstores and I know one of the owners quite well and have made an initial contact with another one, whose bookstore is within a children's toy/clothing store as well. I haven't kept up that connection so this is a reminder to me.

Traci said...

Thanks for the great information. Just told my writing group to become part of the IndieBound community - and to follow your blog.

cloris said...

I think it's wonderful that Marietta took the time to give advice. Agents are so inundated with work that sometimes I wonder if they have any free time. Thank you! Oh, and I'd love to win today's contest.

Sandi said...

Great interview. Not too many agent/book store owners out there, I bet; but what great jobs to have. Thx for opportunity to enter!

Heather Zundel said...

Oh wow. I just queried her YESTERDAY (and I guess I didn't read your guest list very clearly, because I had no idea she would be on here).

Her ideas about diversity are awesome. It would be awesome to win this. And after all you/she said about independent book stores? So true. I'm floating on cloud nine. Thanks so much for doing this Maris Gras week!

darcy.maloney said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Marietta at the SCBWI/Midsouth conference last September, and it was so nice to read an interview asking all those questions we couldn't politely grill her about at the event. Thanks! BTW, if any of you make to Louisville, KY, Carmichael's Bookstore is an indy gem!

Feywriter said...

Thanks for the insight into Indie bookstores.

Francesca said...

I'm an r-roller (Italian) and my husband is not (English). I made sure the children could both roll their r's because you never know when it might come in handy.

We have a great indy bookstore down the street which I love. I've tried chatting gently to the owner, but he's a bit shy. I will keep at it, because it would be a great place for a launch party. ;)

Sara McClung ♥ said...

This week is AWESOME!! Seriously, I am learning so. much. Thanks Shelli.

And thanks Marietta! That your life is so immersed in books makes me pretty much green from my hairline down to my toes! So cool. And I'm off to go check out the IndieBound community :-)

zjmmom said...

Thanks for this information. I always get such a warm "at home" feeling when I walk into my local indie bookstore, kind of like how it used to feel walking into grandma's house. It's great to know specifically how I can foster a relationship with them as a writer.

Sarah said...

This is great. Thanks again for posting! :)

rzimmer2 said...

I love indie bookstores! The nearest indie children's bookstore to where I live is "Storyopolis." I've learned a lot from reading this blog. Keep up the great work!

Christina Farley said...

So much great information. Thanks to both of you.

CL said...

Very helpful interview! Thanks, Shelli.

Cheree said...

I'm loving the interviews this week, there's so much interesting information.

Jemi Fraser said...

We don't anymore indie bookstores in our city - I was so sad when my favourite one closed :(

Thanks for all of the great information!

wendy said...

One of the most informative and practical interviews blogs I've read. It's people like Marietta that give authors the confidence to keep writing our art and persevere against the odds. Thanks so much. Very encouraging.

Joyce Lansky said...

I'd love to win... but I've lost contests with even better odds. You've gotten a lot of comments.

JosephDMMiller said...

Thanks for the great interview!

Natalie Aguirre said...

What great advice to pair the book signing to a school visit. Thanks.

Susan Fields said...

Great interview! I loved the book signing tips - hopefully I'll get to use them someday. Thanks for a wonderful post.

Clare Di Liscia Baird said...

I met Marietta at last years SCBWI conference and she was a remarkable, talented speaker! Thanks for interviewing her.

kimysworld said...

Thanks for posting this, she is on my 'to query' list!

Serenissima said...

Thanks, Marietta! I'm loving these posts!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

Thanks ot all of you for participating today. Cut off is 12 PST time (3am EST) Good luck to all of you! :)

Tami said...

Love the partnering bookstores with a local library or restaurant! What a great idea.

Cathy C. Hall said...

Great stuff, as usual...I want to be a Book Curator. Wonder where I'd find a job posting for that??

Deb Salisbury said...

Great interview, Marietta and Shelli! Thanks!

W. Christopher Benham Skidmore said...

I, too, enjoyed the interview and meeting Marietta Zacker at a SCBWI conf last year.

Tiffany Neal said...

Wow. You have been doing some really great posts over here! Thanks for these great opportunities!

You and Elana rock!! :)

shannywriter said...

Thank you so much for such specific, helpful marketing info! Wow, a lot of things I never would have thought of , and I feel so far from that stage of the journey, but I'll happily file it until then! Our local Indie is closing-real sad. They tried downsizing, but now will close :(

Kim Kasch said...

Might have missed the cutoff but had to say, I LOVE indie booksellers :)

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

LOVE Marietta! Thanks for the interview!
:)
e

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

For Bill at 10:18 PM

It's interesting to know that a child's enthusiasm for a book can mean a larger turnout at a book signing. Looks like word of mouth is the best advertising!



Thank you, Shelli, for sharing this and other insights from Marietta.

Laurie said...

Marietta had great tips! The pairing of the school visits with the book signing at a bookstore is a great idea. I've seen both done independently but I hadn't thought of connecting the two. Great idea.
And her Indie book store looks so cute!

Agyw said...

Talk about multi-tasker! Wow, I love the idea (though I imagine it's great work) of both a literary agent and books seller-- that truly is devotion to the wonders of books! Anyhow thank you for the tip on Indie Bound, I became a member. In Maine, we're blessed with a number of Indies, as well as a very strong, writing/illustrating community. Thank you again for this series, Sherri!

Agyw said...

Aw GEEZE!!!! My bad, I knew I should have had the coffee first! My apologies SHELLI! Dang, goes off to drawing table red-faced.....

Corey Schwartz said...

Oh, I have got to visit her store! I think it's not too far from me.

Lori Calabrese said...

Shoot--I've never been able to roll my R's! :)

Great interview! I have my list of local independents and I've been trying to visit each one. Not only is it fun to meet new people, but it's fun to see how each store is set up!

Shannon said...

I didn't realize that an Indie bookstore could be a resource for other marketing venues such as schools and organizations. Thank you for the valuable tip!

nathaliemvondo said...

So insightful. Thanks, Marietta and Shelli. I'm linking the post. :)

Kate Narita said...

Great tips for making the most out of a bookstore visit. Thank you!